Banjul, Gambia - President Yahya Jammeh has said Gambia’s independence from Great Britain was a sham. Speaking here Monday, on the eve of The Gambia’s 49th Independence Anniversary (celebrated Tuesday, 18 February), Jammeh said 'our independence became a sham because Gambia’s leadership at the time plunged our country deeper into the complete hegemony of the British Empire and therefore failed to bring about any significant socio-economic development.'
The Gambia gained independence from colonial Britain on 18 February, 1965, and became a Republic in April 1970 with former President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, as its first Head of State.
“For a country once labelled as a ‘hell hole on earth’ by former US President during the height of massive looting of our resources by our merciless colonial masters – we should definitely be proud of our selves for the rapid development we have achieved so far during the past 20 years,” he said.
He said The Gambia became truly independent from 22 July, 1994, “from the exploitative hegemony of our former colonial masters.”
Jammeh said his philosophy is that independence should have a practical meaning and 'in my words and deeds, The Gambia will continue to stand tall among the world’s nations as a dignified proud country making sustainable progress based on self reliance.'
According to him, the Economist Magazine has ranked The Gambia among “the most stable countries in the world”.
He said such a feat must never be taken for granted but 'should propel all of us to stand firm in unity to safeguard and preserve it for posterity.
“I call on every Gambian to take greater personal responsibility for the socio-economic development, stability, security and independence... of our motherland, The Gambia,” he said.
He also warned that Gambians “should not rely on the state for a disproportionate share of our welfare, rather, we must endeavour and be bold enough to take full control and responsibility for our own socio-economic advancement and that of our country.”
President Jammeh came to power through a 22 July, 1994, coup and has won all presidential elections held in the country since 1996.